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Senior Year Song November 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ncardinale @ 2:02 am

Senior year at Shenendehowa High School is like any other.

You meet new friends, hang out with old ones, do your homework, attend classes, dance at proms, and cheer at football games.

Except for the addition of one little thing…

College.

Being the final year of high school, and essentially the last time we can slack off and be “kids,” senior year is dominated by the college application process, future plans, and aspirations.

One song that completely captures my perception of senior year and belongs in the “Senior Year Soundtrack,” is “On The Road to Find Out” by Cat Stevens. Since each stanza contains a moral that contributes to one large, cohesive one, I will briefly summarize what each of the nine stanzas mean:

“Well, I left my happy home
to see what I could find out.
I left my folk and friends
with the aim to clear my mind out.”  To me, this part of the song represents leaving home to live on a college campus for the sake of learning new things, and creating a fresh start.

“Well I hit the rowdy road
and many kinds I met there,
many stories told me
of the way to get there.”  Once we go to a college, a new chapter of life will commence. We will meet many different people along the way who will guide us in the direction we want to go.

“So on and on I go,
the seconds tick the time out,
there’s so much left to know,
and I’m on the road to find out.”  It may seem daunting to think that we have more years of schooling ahead of us, but the time will fly by. Even beyond college, we will continue to gain knowledge and experience that shapes who we are.

“Well in the end I’ll know,
but on the way I wonder
through descending snow,
and through the frost and thunder,”  After high school, we’ll encounter stumbling blocks/disappointments and not know what to expect (we may be traveling on the “road to find out,” but life is not a roadmap). Hopefully, in the scheme of things, we will discover what we want to study in college, what career we want to pursue, and someday, what to do with ourselves aside from educational goals.

“I listen to the wind come howl,
telling me I have to hurry.
I listen to the robin’s song
saying not to worry.”  People send us, and sometimes we send ourselves, mixed messages. Parents might put pressure on us to work faster and harder, while we are afraid to make any hasty decisions (such as choosing which college to attend, or switching majors during college).

“Then I found myself alone,
hoping someone would miss me.
Thinking about my home,
and the last woman to kiss me, kiss me.”  Away at college, and/or when we’re much older, we’ll reminisce about our family, friends, and possibly senior year.

“But some times you have to moan
when nothing seems to suit ya’,
but nevertheless you know
you’re locked towards the future.”  It’s okay to complain about how difficult college (and life in general) will be, as long as you remember the big picture: someday these years of hard work will pay off.

“Then I found my head one day
when I wasn’t even trying,
and here I have to say,
’cause there is no use in lying.”  The moment we realize who are and what we want to do with our lives could be planned and calculated. But, in my opinion, it will be spontaneous. And there’s no shame in admitting that we can’t always plan our futures accordingly.

“Yes the answer lies within,
so why not take a look now,
kick out the devil’s sin,
pick up, pick up a good book now.”  The person we should listen to most carefully, is ourself. Only we know what will make us happy in the long-run. To make that happiness come true, we have to make smart, not irrational decisions–beginning with our senior year, and having an idea of what we want to do after high school.

When we put all of these stanzas together, I believe the over-arching message is this: Growing up and going to college is exciting and undoubtedly challenging, but in the end, all will pay off if we follow our ambitions and do what will make us happy.

This, is what senior year is all about.

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A Costume That Is “Me” November 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ncardinale @ 3:17 am

Halloween.

It’s that time of year when people can dress up as anything they wish to be. Some costumes are just for the laughs (like banana and gorilla suits), while others, I believe, represent our alter egos.

We may not always be cognizant of the fact that our costumes reflect the person we desire to be, or the occupation we want to hold, but I know exactly why I chose to wear this year’s costume: a Flapper dress.

In case anyone is not familiar with who Flappers were, they stood for and advanced women’s progress during “The Roaring ‘Twenties.” By “progress,” I mean social advancements rather than political ones. To create a looser, more gregarious image of women, Flappers carried around lanky cigarette holders, wore short, baggy dresses, had their hair cut into “bobs,” and danced The Charleston (a groundbreaking dance for the time that involved much hand, arm, and leg flailing) to fast-paced music.

Since I long to be a more outgoing and confident individual, I found it only fitting to wear a shimmering, black-and-green sequined Flapper gown, a sparkling, gold headband with a black plume attached to the rim, and to hold a realistic, reproduction cigarette holder (complete with a fake cigarette attached on top).

But, it wasn’t just who I yearn to be that was the deciding factor in purchasing my costume. It also had to do with who I already am.

I grew up watching old movies. When I say old… I mean really old.

As much as I enjoy watching films from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, my favorites are those from the ‘teens to the 1950’s. My dad exposed me to them starting at around the age of 5 or 6. We would sit in front of the TV together and watch the Turner Classic Movie channel, which is dedicated to showing nothing but classic movies and shorts 24/7. He used to rattle off trivia about all of the stars and films on television, and about his glamorous autograph collection which dazzled me as it tantalizingly hung from the walls. Pretty soon, I began to memorize his movie knowledge and recognize the actors/actresses and movies without having to be prompted. As a result, both the films and autographs lost their mystique, but gained a new place in my everyday life.

I remember one morning  when I was in Kindergarten, I woke up to the sound of a film playing on Turner Classic Movies. Immediately, I recognized the melodic voice of the person speaking as being that of Judy Garland (the woman who portrayed Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz). I got up, went to the television, and sure enough, it was she. In fact, I also knew that the movie was titled “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

As a six-year-old, I felt pretty proud to have obtained these facts.

Today, I still admire my dad’s autographs and watch movies with him, but he no longer needs to inform me as to what we’re watching, who starred in it, or what piece of film memorabilia I’m looking at. For more than likely, I am already aware. Films from the “Golden Age” are truly ingrained in me.

For music, the situation is similar.

As a little girl, and even now, my dad plays his collection of standard size records and ’45s for me, thus introducing me to the music he grew up with (songs from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s). Once I grew accustomed to the rock, disco, and pop from these decades, curiosity took hold of me and I dabbled in the Big Band/jazz-style music from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, and the ballads and early pop/rock from the ’50s. Needless to say, I fell in love with the songs from these time periods as well.

Not surprisingly, my iPod is almost completely comprised of music from the aforesaid eras, with a few current songs intermixed.

In summary, when I wore my flashy, glamorous Flapper outfit, I felt as though I was simultaneously honoring and celebrating the movies and music that I cherish, while building self-esteem.

What more could one want out of a costume?

 

The Life of a Remote October 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ncardinale @ 9:53 pm

I am a clunky, over-sized television remote, and am currently resting on a shelf. It is rare that I get a moment’s peace, because most of the time, the mother, father, and children living in this house are avid television viewers.

Uh oh–here comes someone as we speak.

A giant hand is hovering over me, casting a looming shadow. In no time, a sweaty palm engulfs me, and I am lifted midair.

As soon as the individual is situated, the adamant pushing of my buttons ensues. At first, I don’t mind being handled in this manner too much, but as the hours progress, my buttons begin to stick out of exhaustion and irritation.

Typically, it isn’t just one person that manipulates me at a time, but the entire family. While in use, I am passed around like a hot potato, and hear, “Mom! Give me the remote, I want to change the volume!” “Honey, could you give me the remote? I’d like to channel surf.” “Dad, may I have the remote [please]? Let’s find something else to watch.”

Even when I’m not in operation, I am still abused.

Careless people drop me, unknowingly bringing me discomfort as my plastic parts are smashed to smithereens.

There are incidents where I’ve been temporarily misplaced, and had to breathe in clumps of dust/debris and soiled laundry. If misplaced near a television, I am subjected to its blaring speakers and blinding screen until someone locates me.

When it’s time for my batteries to be changed, my owners don’t always realize this until after they’ve slammed me against a few surfaces.

Worst of all, is when beverages and liquids are spilled on me, and food becomes encrusted on my exterior. Not only do I then feel disgusting, but my keepers work me even more, for my buttons are inhibited by these substances.

I wish that the mother, father, and kids who reside here exercised more. Perhaps they wouldn’t rely as much on television for their main source of entertainment. In turn, I would be given a much-needed break.

 

Home Sweet Home October 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ncardinale @ 2:59 am

As “wonderful” as Clifton Park is, it is not my real home (and hardly my favorite place in the world).  I haven’t traveled outside of the country yet, nor discovered any exotic, enchanting places. Thus my true home, and favorite place in the world, is one that everyone has heard of.

San Francisco.

I resided in what is an Italian-turned-Chinese Immigrant neighborhood. The streets aren’t immaculate, the air is a little foggy, and the buildings are time-worn, but this far-from-perfect city is still my home-away-from-home.

For a time, my parents and I lived on the second floor of my grandparent’s flat in San Francisco. But even when we purchased our own home, we continued to visit them on a regular basis.

I remember finding their flat enigmatic and haunting, because everything in it (including the building itself) dated back to some by-gone era. The sparkling, crystal doorknobs from the 1930s, and the characteristic shag carpeting and textured wallpaper from the 1960s, always caught my eye. Often I would explore the bedrooms and see how many antiquated treasures I could uncover. My biggest discoveries were 70-year-old yearbooks belonging to my grandmother and great aunt, a collection of Life magazines from the 60s and 70s, and photo albums containing childhood pictures from the ‘teens and ‘twenties.

Along with the structural aspects of the flat, I also made joyful memories there. During my youngest years, I used to play with dolls, make pretend fashion magazines, piece together puzzles, and tell my grandparents everything I was learning in school. As I became older, and lessened the toy and arts and crafts obsessions, I would ask my grandfather to recount WWII stories, and watch the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” with my grandmother while she cooked dinners that filled the air with smells of herbs and spices. My dad and grandfather used to play old, crackling records for me, which I would sing along to. Just for the experience, I used to occasionally watch television on my grandparent’s tube TV, which had only a handful of channels, a fuzzy screen, and difficult-to-maneuver knobs.

 Spending time in the backyard was also something I’ll never forget. Green apples from the neighbor’s yard fell over the white picket fence and landed beside the lone rickety bench I would sit on. Bumble bees were constantly swarming, the scent of rosemary filled the air, and the sun seemed to beat down brightly and warmly all year-round.

The Holiday season was always an extravaganza at the flat. On Christmas Eve, I would wait by the staircase leading to the front door, and excitedly anticipate greeting guests as they made their entrance. My relatives and I traditionally exchanged presents at midnight beside the tree with the oversized bulbs, and ate home-made Italian dishes at the large oak table in the dining room. The adults always spoke of remembrances and years past, which at the time, I would ignore, and have my own special side-conversations with my grandmother.

One of the last times I was ever in my grandparent’s flat, I inscribed my name and the month, day, and year at that time in permanent marker on a stud in the basement, directly next to my dad’s signature from January 31, 1968.

Aside from my grandparent’s home, I miss the bustling, siren-wailing streets of San Francisco as well. My grandmother used to walk me to toy stores in unimaginable weather. The wind would gust so hard in my face, that I had to close my eyes and breath out of my mouth, which resulted in my inhaling the stench of the fish markets that lined the sidewalks. She would clasp my hand as we treaded along roads that shot straight down (riding in cars down these streets gave me a pit in my stomach, as they felt like roller coaster rides). Nevertheless, we were so happy to be spending time together, that the impediments were inconsequential. When we would finally make it back home, it was as though an adventure had just transpired.

My dad used to guide me through neighborhood, pointing out various sites, such as the high school that my grandparents attended. The spiky black fence that surrounded its perimeter always brought me a sense of doom. Other times, he would take my mom, grandmother, and me (my grandfather had passed on by then) out on trips to restaurants and other places, such as the zoo (where a seagull came down and swept a sandwich right out of my hand… I cried my eyes out), the circus, the vintage arcade that was featured in “The Princess Diaries,” and the beach, which was so chilly that we had to wear jackets.

Though my grandparents have both passed on, and I haven’t stepped foot in their flat (it has since changed hands), or in San Francisco for that matter, in almost seven years, everything about them and this city remains close to my heart. I plan on returning someday, and making new memories.

 

The thing I cannot live without… October 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ncardinale @ 10:08 pm

…is medicine.

Much like how air, water, food, sleep, and even human interaction and relationships are integral to our lives, medicine is essential in mine. If not for modern medicine, I would have passed away by the age of 5.

I was born with an immune deficiency disease, which means that I am more susceptible to viruses than most people. In early elementary school, this disease intruded upon my life, and every few months at that. Without warning, I would wake up for school and find my throat to be soar and almost completely swollen shut. As soon as I told my parents  how I felt, a call would immediately be placed to the school and a bed would be made up for me- for they knew what was coming.

Bedridden and quickly growing faint, I developed fevers that climbed as high as 104 and suffered from relentless sinus drainage. Within a couple of hours, I was (here comes the pleasant part)… expelling… non-stop. These regurgitation sessions usually lasted for 12 hours straight (the longest being 21 hours). By the final hour, I was already situated in a hospital, as my parents had no way of helping me, and I was losing fluids dangerously fast. IVs would be hooked up to me until the hospital staff could settle my stomach. Beyond this point, I would remain there for up to a few hours. In some instances, days.

After all was said and done, a plain ol’ cold would set in.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

Since my nasal passages were (and still are) narrow, I had trouble blowing my nose. Therefore, my passages became clogged, and I developed sinus infections (the dangerous, cranial types). No doctor or specialist could diagnose me, thus my health continued on a downward spiral. Still incapacitated and missing countless school assignments, my parents finally convinced the doctors to perform a Neuro scan on me, where they at last discovered my sinus infections. Finally, I’d be given a series of antibiotics, and over time, improve.

I was supposed to grow out of my immune deficiency disease by the time I was 12. Instead, it didn’t show signs of reformation until I turned 16.

Today, though I still catch everything, it is much better. No longer do I have to go to the hospital. I don’t develop especially high-grade fevers like I used to, nor disgorge for hours on end. Rather than waking up with a random, painful, throat, my body now gives me signs of when I’m about to become sick (such as feeling tired, sneezing, coughing, developing a stuffy nose, having sinus drainage… you know, the symptoms that most people get). This way, I can prepare for being afflicted with an ailment. In summary, if I am to contract a cold or flu, I experience it right away; no more going through tests and hospital stays… only to find out that I have the common cold. I still get sinus infections each and every time, and will have to have antibiotics on hand for the rest of my life, but at least my illnesses are no longer frightening enigmas.

As if this isn’t enough, I would have been severely physically crippled by the age of 13 if not for my scoliosis brace.

I was born with a highly unusual form of scoliosis, known as Structural Scoliosis, where the spine not only twists, but the vertebrae, ribcage, and hips do so as well, which then effect other bones in the body. This twisting of the spine progressed so rapidly and furiously, that average doctors could no longer aid me. I was sent to a specialist, who made me wear a nighttime (thankfully not a 24/7) corrective brace for 4 years. It pushed me back in the right direction, sot that now I am mostly straight. The brace was uncomfortable, cacoon-like, and almost suffocating, yet without it, my spine would eventually have twisted and crushed my internal organs… leading to death. Unfortunately, for some people, the brace does not work, and surgery becomes the only option.

I’m sure that I have disclosed “TMI” and things that sound repulsive to you. But, I merely wanted to express my gratitude for modern medicine/treatment. It is something I, literally, can’t live without.

 

Fall is here! October 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ncardinale @ 5:09 am

I love Fall for all the same reasons most people probably do (i.e. leaves turning to vibrant, stunning colors, the crunch of them under your feet, the crisp, biting air, the return to yet another school year…).

But- I rarely hear about sweaters. To me, they are the most cozy and fond aspect of the Fall season.

I despise waking up in the morning to go to school, and having to part from my warm, luscious bed. The minute I step out of it, the bare hardwood floors chill my feet, and the cold air makes every hair on my arms stand up straight. As soon as I am dressed, I usually run to put a robe on, and only take it off when the heat is turned up sufficiently.

The same thing occurs at school. As soon as I arrive at my locker, I am faced with the task of having to remove my oversized, comfy coat, and make it through a 6-hour day feeling as though I am in an igloo.

All of this can be avoided, however, with sweaters!

Non-figuratively speaking, the second the seasons switch from Summer to Fall, I store away all of my short-sleeve shirts and shorts (I sound like a bear in hibernation) and pull out the sweaters. This way, when I step out of bed in the morning, instead of having to wrap myself in excessive layers to keep comfortable, I merely slip on a fuzzy sweater, and all is well. The school day is also much more of a breeze when I am not thinking about going home and putting on something thicker, while sitting beside the fireplace. That reminds me…

Another wonderful element of Fall, are fires.

Nothing is better than, following a mundane day at school, treading up my front yard after having ridden the bus, entering my snug, heated home, and situating myself in front of a roasting fire. The second I do, I can feel every ounce of “cold” dissipate from my bones, and a calming, soothing warmth settle over me.

These, are the transcendent qualities of Fall.

 

Lost Generation September 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ncardinale @ 9:26 pm

Two statements from Jonathan Reed’s poem “Lost Generation” (when read forwards, not backwards) really struck a chord with me:

“Once upon a time
Families stayed together
but this will not be true in my era”

 and

“In the future
Environmental destruction will be the norm
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this earth”

I couldn’t agree more with the former stanza if I tried.

It’s always pleasant- and shocking, when I meet someone whose biological parents are still happily married. But more often than not, I come across people from broken homes (i.e. parents who never married [70% of African American babies, and about 40% of Caucasian babies are born out-of-wedlock], divorced parents, foster parents, live-in boyfriends/girlfriends, stepparents, single parents, no parents/guardians [they’re physically and/or emotionally removed], adoptive parents, etc).

Admittedly, “broken homes” is a very subjective term, and plenty of children are content living in any of the aforementioned lifestyles. The reason why I am choosing to use such a banal saying, is that most of the people I know who live in an untraditional family, per say (or have no family), are unhappy. They don’t always make their melancholy blatantly known, but it ends up showing through in other ways (such as making poor decisions [regarding drugs, alcohol,… you name it], and/or they develop a misanthropic outlook on people and a cynical one on life in general).

The latter excerpt, in reference to the environment, is baffling, for I’ve never seen, heard, or read about a generation more concerned about the environment than us.

“Environmental destruction will be the norm?” What? If my peers and I didn’t care about the earth, Shen High School wouldn’t have the Environment Club, offer an Environmental Science course, or recycle for that matter!

From a broader perspective, one of the major issues in our government and politics is what to do about the environment (such as sources of alternative energy [like solar panels and windmills], off-shore drilling, natural gas, and battery, water, and oil operated automobiles).

How about when one walks into a grocery or convenience store? There is no escaping all of the “Go Green” and “Environmentally Safe” products that line the shelves.

Television is another means by which being “Environmentally Friendly” is promoted. I can think of a few channels specifically: HGTV and DIY suggest tips on how to make one’s home “Green,” Disney Channel and Nickelodeon encourage kids to take part in preserving nature and helping out around their community, and MSNBC and CNBC support the Obama Administration’s environmental mandates.

Moreover, to say that people my age (and the rest of the population) lack the desire to respect the earth, seems inconsiderate to me.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, today’s “Lost Generation” cares more about saving the environment than they do about preserving family values.